Last fall, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA), which was dubbed the "internet blacklist" by opponents worried about its broad provisions for allowing the removal of websites based on vague criteria. COICA stalled in Congress, but now Leahy has proposed a new, similar piece of legislation called the PROTECT IP Act (PDF). "Like COICA, Protect IP expands the web of enforcement techniques by requiring advertising networks and financial transaction providers to cut ties to domains found to violate the law. But the new version now adds search engines and others to the list of providers who can be conscripted into complying with court orders. Protect IP would require 'information location tools' to 'take technically feasible and reasonable measures, as expeditiously as possible,' to remove or disable access to the site associated with a condemned domain, including blocking hypertext links to the site. ... Perhaps most worrisome of all, Protect IP adds a provision that allows copyright and trademark holders to sue the owner/operator of a domain directly. Again, the provision applies only to nondomestically-registered domains, but it allows the private party, like the government, to sue the domain name itself if the registrant does not have a US address. That's important because in all cases, once a suit is initiated, the plaintiff can ask the court to issue an injunction or restraining order effectively shutting the site down."
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